Hitman: Sniper – Review

Title   Hitman: Sniper
Developer  Square Enix
Publisher  Square Enix
Platform  iOS, Android (reviewed)
Genre  Stealth shooter
Release Date  June 4, 2015

At E3 2014, I ended up with what we call ‘one of those appointments’ where, despite heavily advanced scheduling and a considerable amount of liaising over which titles I’d be seeing, everything changed on the day.  Instead of the thirty-minute behind-closed-doors presentations that I was led to believe we’d be having, I was instead ushered to the show floor and directed to a row of consoles showing Murdered: A Soul Suspect.  When I asked the purpose of this, considering we’d already published a full review as the game had been out more than a week by the time E3 rolled around, the guy apologised and led me over to a bank of iPads showing Hitman: Sniper.  At the time, I didn’t really partake in mobile gaming and was pretty hacked off that I’d turned down other appointments in favour of what turned out to be a damp squib, so I gave it a cursory look and actually quite liked it.

Now, a year later, I had the chance to play it in full.  Sadly, despite the Play Store claiming that it was fully compatible with all of my devices, Hitman: Sniper refused to go beyond the “Installation 100% Complete” screen with my Samsung Tab S.  Several emails from Square Enix support later, various safe-mode reboots, un-installs, cache-clearings, and much messing around with settings here and there I just gave up on it.  Instead, I whipped out the much slower Tab 4 and gave it a shot.  This time, it worked; albeit running much slower than it would have on the more powerful Tab S.

The premise of Hitman: Sniper is, on the face of it, a pretty simple affair – you’re perched high in your sniper nest, facing three buildings of varying size, and you’re given a briefing of which target needs to be taken out.  The core weaponry is a decent-enough long-range rifle and the controls are incredibly easy where you drag the screen to line up your reticle, pinch-drag to zoom in/out and line up your target, then take your shot.  In earlier levels, this may actually be all that you need to do, and so you’ll immediately drop into extraction mode and head back for your mission summary.

As part of your advancement, certain targets will unlock weapon parts which will eventually complete an entire weapon and unlock it for you to use.  These weapons all have their own specific perks, from slowing down time through to x-ray vision to allow you to see where your enemies are even if they are behind cover. As all these perks are timed, and can only be unlocked by using the in-game reward money to upgrade each weapon, they must be used wisely.

As the levels progress, so too does the need for more advanced weaponry.  In some cases you will be asked to kill multiple enemies with a single shot, which means your rifle will need to be very powerful, very accurate, and your timing will need to be spot-on.  You may also be asked to take out a target by a specific means, such as disposing of them in a jacuzzi, taking them out by using the electrical fire from a fuse box, or by blowing up a patio heater while they’re standing next to it.

All of these options increase your final score and help to bring in more money for additional upgrades, but the sooner your target is taken out, the sooner the extraction begins.  Earning the big bucks can be a more complicated affair, where keeping an eye on the clock will allow you to take out some of the other marked targets before heading for the main objective.  So while a regular hit-and-run style kill of focusing on the main target will likely end up with a score between 80,000-150,000 you could quite easily rack up close to one-million points if you think well in advance.

The more elaborate and considered the kill, the higher the payout will be.  Setting off a car alarm to have one of the guards check it out before you take him out will increase your points because you’ve effectively lured him to his death.  Similarly, shooting a fuse box once to have someone inspect it and then shooting it once more to cause it to explode will give you a significant boost.  Once you start playing around with inspired techniques, you’ll see some hefty points thrown your way.

What makes Hitman: Sniper odd, however, is that you never get to visit a different location or see new targets.  Within each level you’ll see the same guards, guests, and targets… despite having already killed most of them several times over.  Granted, each mission has a very different set of requirements – some of which will undoubtedly mean that you’ll have to replay the level as it’s not always easy to achieve what is required of you – but it does jar to see Kasia Romanowski mincing around with a glass of wine in her hand only minutes after you plastered the walls with her brains.

That small gripe aside, and that fact that it refused to run on a high-powered tablet, Hitman: Sniper is actually quite the surprise hit.  The graphics are well presented, with no sign of dodgy textures or missing assets at any point during my time with it, and the sound design is certainly to be commended.  I tend to play tablet games with a set of Kitsound Manhattan headphones, and the audio mix is pretty spectacular at times.  Guards can be heard discussing suspicious activity, gunshots sound hefty and powerful, and there’s a certain atmosphere about it.

All told, Hitman: Sniper really does hit the mark.  It has everything that you’d likely want from a mobile game – plenty of variation in what needs to be done, the freedom to explore different techniques, and the ability to drop in and out without affecting your progress.  Plus, there’s absolutely no paywall, so there’s never any need to dip into your wallet – the best type of game.

  • Decent graphics
  • Excellent sound
  • Solid gameplay
  • Enough variation and freedom to make things interesting
  • Great variation in weaponry
  • Perks are well-thought-out
  • No paywall
  • Would have liked additional locations
  • Seems odd, killing the same people over and over, like some sort of evil Groundhog Day

Hitman: Sniper looks to be one of the few big-name franchises to hit mobile devices and not simply be a way to cash-in on the impatience of gamers with too much money. The concept is sound, although it would be good to explore additional locations, and the variation in the way to progress through each mission means that the player is really left to their own devices as long as they go on to take out the correct target by the specified means. Weapon choices and advancements are spread out enough to make it interesting, but never to the point where any one weapon feels out of reach. For those who prefer to snipe from afar, think well in advance, and enjoy shaking things up a little, Hitman: Sniper hits the target. Pun intended.

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One Comment

  1. Mark Mark says:

    Bought this based on your review and really enjoying it. Playing it on an iPhone 5 though, I don’t recommend it. Controls can be tricky.

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